Serres specializes in contemporary history painting. His experience in Canada and West Indies helps him to show the military operations of the Seven Years War in which he had not participated. Lieutenant Philip Orsbridge published circa 1766 some illustrations related to the taking of Havana by the British navy in 1762. Serres was certainly influenced in part by the Orsbridge images.
In 1767 Serres painted four views 52 x 77 cm of the Havana siege. A pair from this set was sold for £ 195K including premium by Sotheby's on July 9, 2014.
Such trials brought to Serres what was probably the most important achievement of his career : a series of eleven oils on canvas painted between 1770 and 1775 depicting the preparation of the attack, the capture of the fort and of the city and the immediate aftermath of the battle of Havana, commissioned by the Earl of Albemarle and his brother Lord Keppel who together had led the siege.
The topography is sharp at such a point to imply that Serres could have earlier met Canaletto. The action is intense, even including in close up some British soldiers busy loading the batteries.
The eleven paintings remained in the family of the Earls of Albemarle. They were on loan since 1948 at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and some of them have joined the permanent collections of the museum.
On July 6 in London, Sotheby's sells separately four of these paintings. The military preparations occupy lot 43, 86 x 177 cm dated 1770, estimated £ 400K, and lot 45, 84 x 122 cm dated in the same year, estimated £ 200K. The fall of the fort where the Union Jack is now flying is at lot 42. This beautiful panoramic view, 126 x 188 cm undated, is estimated £ 800K. The fourth picture shows the cathedral after the events, 84 x 122 cm undated, lot 44 estimated £ 300K.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Lot 43 : £ 425K
Lot 44 : £ 340K
Lot 45 : £ 220K
Lot 42 unsold.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's :